The Ultimate Guide on How to Give a Cat a Bath


Giving a cat a bath is one of those life experiences no one really wants to have to bother with. After all, aren’t cats supposed to give themselves a bath with their tongue? They spend enough time licking themselves they can’t possibly be dirty, correct? For the most part, cats don’t need baths. They are self-cleaning creatures; particularly if they are indoor cats that spend no time outside the house. However, there is always an occasion that calls for a bath for a cat, and you can’t avoid those situations forever. A cat that’s been attacked by fleas will need a flea bath. One that got outside and got into some mud or stickers or other issues is going to need a bath. A cat that has a run-in with a skunk is definitely going to need a bath – or two.

No matter how you slice it, you might need to one day give your cat a bath, but you might find yourself asking how. It’s not as intimidating as you might think, but it’s certainly true most cats are not big fans of water. For this reason, it’s imperative you find yourself some good advice, some help, and some instruction before you start the process. Our overview and videos are designed to help you correctly bathe your cat so that you don’t scar him or her for life.

A Good Sense of Humor

The first thing you’ll need when it comes to bathing your cat is a good sense of humor. These are animals that aren’t interested in being bathed. This will likely not be a clean or simple process. This video is going to give you a comedic start to the process so that you can ease your mind and realize that bathing a cat is not the overly terrifying process you might assume it is. A little comedic relief can ease your mind, help you understand what’s needed of you and even make the process a bit more enjoyable.

What You’ll Need

A tub

Pet Shampoo

A cup

A Towel

Considerations to Make

Before bathing your cat, there are a few things you do need to seriously consider. The first is to consider why you are bathing your cat. Are you bathing your cat because you want to make her smell more appealing or are you bathing her because she’s got an issue with some fleas? The reason behind her bath is going to help you determine what to use as far as shampoo is concerned. While it likely won’t hurt your cat to use just a dab of your own shampoo, it could hurt some cats. It’s imperative to find shampoo that’s designed for animals, recommended by your vet and designed for the specific needs of your cat. Flea shampoo for dogs might not be the best solution for your cat. If you find yourself uncertain, don’t hesitate to call your cat’s vet to ask what to use on the animal.


The first thing you need to do when it comes to bathing your cat is prep everything ahead of time. You will want to have everything you need where you need it before you find the cat and start the bath process. Just a bit of friendly advice; your cat is not likely to “stay” where you leave her in the bathtub or sink if you forget to get a towel. Some dogs might, but we guarantee your cat is not down with the latest commands and even if she is, she’s not down with the idea of staying put in a tub of water when she’s wet, cold and furious with you. Having everything ready and within easy reach is recommended before you locate your feline friend.

Check the temperature of the water prior to allowing your cat to be submerged in it, and do not put your cat into deep water or directly beneath the faucet.


Start by placing your cat in the tub while the water is running, but don’t block the drain. Pour water over the back of your cat, working your way down without getting his or her ears wet. You’ll want to hold the cat down with one hand and gently pour water with the other. Next, grab some shampoo and apply it directly to the cat, avoiding her face and ears. Massage the shampoo gently into the skin of your cat and make sure to clean every part of its body save for the ears and eyes. Once you do this, start pouring water gently over the cat and rubbing the shampoo out of the cat’s fur and skin. Be very careful to remove all shampoo prior to removing your cat from the tub.


Your cat is going to be fairly annoyed with you about the entire bath process. Your best bet it so find a fluffy towel, wrap the cat up tightly and just cuddle the cat this way. Why? Because you will want to keep the cat from getting away from you right away and shaking her body all over your house; wet cats don’t smell any better than wet dogs. If you want to try and dry your cat with a hair dryer, go for it. However, it’s likely not going to work. Cats aren’t very manageable when it comes to making them sit still will soaking wet to endure a blow dryer. Do your best to towel dry the cat and watch as it sulks and attempts to dry itself for the next little while.

Face and Ears

Now that your cat is clean, you might have to chase her down again to clean her face and ears. You will need a cotton ball to wipe around the inside of her ears – do not use a Q-Tip! Additionally, you will want a soft, damp cloth to wipe her face. Anything more abrasive, even just a baby wipe, is too dangerous to use near the cat’s mouth and eyes, so just wet a soft cloth with warm water and use that to clean your cat’s face.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

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